By Shawn Buck (@buck4peace)
This Saturdays UFC on Fox 23 main event matchup between Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena is a clash between the number 1 and number 2 ranked Women’s bantamweights in the world. The winner should undoubtedly be the next opponent of current champion Amanda Nunes. As dominant as Nunes has been recently, the winner of this fight could be the one to dethrone her. This weekends fight could be easily viewed as a championship in itself.
Shevchenko is a driven fighter who really wants to be the champion and if her first fight with Nunes had been five rounds, it may have happened. When she fought Nunes she was able to weather the storm of the heavy-handed Nunes and actually had her gassed in the third and final round. Shevchenko lost a unanimous decision in that fight. Nunes went on to get a title shot against Miesha Tate in her next fight and destroyed her in one round while Shevchenko fought against former champion Holly Holm in her next fight. Shevchenko defeated Holm in five rounds by unanimous decision. She was able to counter Holm often in that fight and also took Holm down a few times. She was good on that night and her performance gave her a right to a rematch with Nunes for the title.
Pena has been excellent since stepping on the UFC scene. After winning the first ever women’s The Ultimate Fighter challenge, she is 3-0. She puts relentless pressure on all her opponents. Her most recent win, at UFC 200, was against veteran Cat Zingano. Zingano has a victory over Nunes. Pena felt she also deserved a shot at the title after that victory. She didn’t get it. The champion waited on the return of Ronda Rousey. Nunes blasted Rousey in less than a minute and now here we are.
These two ladies are more than capable of beating Nunes for the title. Shevchenko already has given her a battle and Pena has dominated all of her UFC opponents. Nunes has looked great defeating both Tate and Rousey in one round. But Tate and Rousey had been at the top on the bantamweight division for some time. Tate recently retired after losing to Raquel Pennington and Rousey after losing the title to Holm was on the fence about coming back from that loss. It’s much harder to stay on top than it is to get there. Rousey has been in several commercials and appeared in major films. She has made a substantial amount of money through fighting and her outside endeavors. Not saying that Rousey and Tate weren’t that good but their hunger may not be as strong as it was earlier in their career. Former middleweight boxing champion Marvin Hagler summed it up by saying that it was tough to get out of bed to do road work at 5am when you’ve been sleeping in silk pajamas. Shevchenko and Pena have no problem getting motivated to train or fight. They want that gold belt around their waist. Nunes is still hungry also but hasn’t faced a fighter with that same desire since she fought Shevchenko in March of 2016. That will change if she faces the winner of Saturdays fight between Shevchenko and Nunes. This fight should be a good one. You may want to tune in because you could possibly be watching the next bantamweight world champion.
By Shawn Buck (@buck4peace)
Andy Reid has been a good coach in the NFL. While coaching the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2012, he won 120 games. He won six division titles and went to the NFC Championship game five times. After being let go by the eagles at the end of the 2012 season, he was hired by the Kansas City Chiefs. His winning has continued as he has made the playoffs two out of three years with them. Can he finally get over the hump and hoist the Lombardi trophy? This year, the Chiefs have as good a chance as anyone to do it.
Last season, the Chiefs started the season 1-5 before winning 10 straight to earn a wild card spot in the playoffs. They also beat the Houston Texans handily in the first round before losing to the New England Patriots 27-20, the following week. Quarterback Alex Smith is what many call a “game manager”. He won’t make a lot of mistakes but he also will not take a lot of chances and throw many long passes down the field. In 2014, he didn’t throw one touchdown pass to a wide receiver. The addition of Jeremy Maclin last season helped that as he finished with 8 touchdowns and 1088 yards receiving. Smith may not be a big game changer a la Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady but he fits in with what Coach Reid wants to do. Smith is also a good scrambler as he finished with 498 yards rushing. Teams can win with a quarterback like Smith but the rest of the team components have to be above average.
The Chiefs have a very good running game. That is if star running back Jamaal Charles can come back from the knee injury he suffered in the fifth game last season, sidelining him for the remainder of the season. The running game will be the strong point of the offense. Even after Charles went down last year, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware held their own as the Chiefs went on their winning streak. This gives them depth at the running back position.
Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce is back. He should have another good year. Smith throws to his tight ends consistently. Last season Kelce finished with 72 receptions and 875 yards to establish himself as one the best tight end in the NFL. It shouldn’t be any different this season. He may be even better.
The Chiefs defense is a good one. This season a lot depends on the health of Justin Houston. He is arguably the Chiefs best player. He is a dominant pass rusher that opposing offenses can’t ignore. Unfortunately he had ACL surgery in February and there are questions of when he’ll be back, and if he does come back can he be the same player of last year.
The Chiefs have a great opportunity to win their division this season. Quarterback concerns in Denver and a young team in Oakland, the AFC West can be theirs for the taking. That is if they can get some home playoff games or even home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs Chiefs have a legitimate chance at going to the Super Bowl. Can they do it?
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By Shawn Buck (@buck4peace)
With the recent upset losses of Miesha Tate and Holly Holm, the UFC women’s bantamweight division has become more competitive than it already was. Amanda Nunes’ first round destruction of Tate caused the championship belt to be placed on a different waist for the second consecutive time since Holly Holm shocked the world and beat the invincible Ronda Rousey. Valentina Shevchenko dominated Holm to give her a second straight defeat. And don’t forget Julianna Pena who recently beat Cat Zingano (who has a victory over Tate and Nunes). This division is deep and there are so many fights that can be made. Let’s look at some potential match ups.
Nunes vs Shevchenko 2
This would be a rematch of a fight in which Nunes won by decision. Nunes seemed gassed by the third and Shevchenko came on late. Most think if the fight was five rounds instead of three Shevchenko would have beaten her. With Nunes being champ now, we would find out.
Nunes vs Pena
Many believe that Pena should get the next shot at the title and understandably so. She has looked good in her three fights since winning the Ultimate Fighter. Nunes might have her hands full with this hungry fighter.
Tate vs Holm 2
This rematch could have happened at UFC 200 but Dana White elected to have Tate’s first defense against Nunes. The first fight, Holm’s first and only title defense, was close. Holm had a slight edge going into the last round before being submitted by Tate. Both former champions are looking to rebound from losses and the winner would have a jump on getting their title back.
Pena vs Shevchenko
Champion Nunes suggested in a tweet that these two fight and the winner gets a chance at her. It’s not a bad idea. Both would be coming off victories over two high profile fighters and the winner would have to be considered the number one contender to the belt.
Zingano vs Tate 2
Zingano has lost two straight but don’t count her out. At one point she was considered one of the best in the world before injuries set her back. Tate would probably like a little revenge since Zingano beat her in their first fight.
Zingano vs Holm
Both fighters have lost two consecutive times and they need to get back on track. What’s a better way to do it than fighting each other? Plus, Holm still has star power judging by the ratings of her last fight and UFC President Dana White loves that.
Rousey vs Anyone
The world wait for Rousey to fight. She has been quiet since her loss to Holm and some wonder will she ever step into the octagon again. If she decides to fight again it will be a big event, no matter who her opponent is. White has said that she would get a shot at the title if she wants it.
By Shawn Buck
When Holly Holm upset Ronda Rousey last November it was the talk of the sports world. Rousey had dominated the women’s bantamweight division. She went past the first round once.
She was getting her opponents out in seconds. Rousey appeared unbeatable. But Holm proved otherwise. Holm fought the perfect game plan. She caught Rousey with solid punches before finishing her with a kick in the second round. It was one of the biggest upsets in not only MMA but sports history. Holm recently won the 2016 ESPY award for Biggest Upset. She was on top of the world. She did several interviews and was on numerous talk shows. It was reminiscent of when Buster Douglas upset Mike Tyson in 1990. The rematch was the word that most people would bring up when asking her questions. The rematch hasn’t happened. Rousey took a break and Holm wanted to fight so she signed to face Miesha Tate.
Tate and Rousey are bitter rivals. Tate took Rousey to the third round in their rematch before being submitted by an armbar. Tate would be a tough challenge for the newly crowned champ and she was. Holm was winning going into the fifth and final round. She made a mistake giving her back to Tate and was submitted with a rear naked choke. Holm lost the belt and some of the benefits of it. She hasn’t been on the tube as much. She didn’t even get the call to be Tate’s first defense of the championship. She’s still well known because of her defeat of Rousey but the momentum of that win took a hit from her loss.
This Saturday Holm, ranked number 2 in her division, has a chance to rebound from that loss. She will be fighting on UFC on Fox in the main event. She will face number 7 Valentina Shevchenko. It’s a chance to get back in title contention. With Tate losing the championship via of a devastating defeat to Amanda Nunes, the opportunity will be there if she can win Saturday. Shevchenko will not be easy though. Her last loss was to Nunes and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. The women’s bantamweight division is hot right now. Even though Rousey hasn’t been active the division is still striving with fighters like Nunes, Tate, Julianna Pena and Holm. If Holm wins on Saturday she not only can get a big fight next, but maybe even a title shot and get her seat back in this game of thrones.
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By Shawn Buck (@buck4peace)
Oftentimes an athletes’ greatness isn’t fully appreciated until after they have retired. Looking back and realizing what they accomplished, we see what we missed out on. Serena Williams falls in this category. With UFC 200 and the buzz of the Kevin Durants’ decision to join the Golden State Warriors, Williams’ win on Saturday was taken for granted to some degree.
Williams at 34 years old, captured her eighth Wimbledon singles championship and 22nd Grand Slam singles title. She is two major titles away from tying the record for most single women’s championships. At an age where most tennis players start to decline she has consistently won. When she loses, it’s more news than when she wins. Her body shape and her show of emotions has often been criticized but her greatness on the tennis court can’t be denied.
Grand Slam tournaments, also known as majors, are the four most important yearly tennis events. These tournaments are where the best in world compete and are good measuring sticks of showing how good a tennis player is. They consist of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Serena Williams has won six Australian, three French, six US Open and seven Wimbledon singles titles. She also has 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, most recently in Wimbledon this year, playing with her sister Venus Williams. Serena has won two mixed doubles Grand Slams as well.
Serena Williams has had a remarkable career. She deserves to be mentioned in the conversation as one of the greatest athletes ever, male or female. Chris Evert, another tennis great, was asked if Serena is the greatest female tennis player ever and she said yes. Who are we to argue? We should appreciate Serena and her game before her run is over.
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By Shawn Buck
Julianna Pena, also known as the Venezuelan Vixen, burst on the UFC scene by winning the first ever women’s The Ultimate Fighter tournament in 2013. It was the most watched season in the series at the time. She was dominant in winning the competition. Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate were the coaches and their bitter rivalry made the show appealing to watch. They were set to meet one another after the season was over as all coaches do on The Ultimate Fighter. Rousey beat Tate again in a good fight by submission armbar in the third round. Rousey looked like she would be a dominant bantamweight champion and Pena looked like she would a big challenge for her in the future.
A lot has changed since then. Pena was injured during training before she had a chance to show what she could do in the UFC. Rousey is no longer the champion thanks to a knockout kick from Holly Holm. Holm lost to Tate after she was winning for four rounds and made a mistake in the fifth and final round to get submitted by rear naked choke. So now Tate is the champion. Pena came back from her injury and she has won twice beating Milana Dudieva and Jessica Eye. Pena has moved up to a number five ranking in her division. She is back on track to get a shot at the title. She faces a tough challenge in Cat Zingano on Saturday in UFC 200. Zingano lost to Rousey in the first round in her attempt at winning the title but Zingano does have a win over current champ Tate in 2013. She will be a good test for Pena. The winner is sure to be a front runner for a shot at the champion.
As deep as the UFC women’s bantamweight division is, this fight is critical to Pena. She has a chance to justify her claim as a top contender by beating number three ranked Zingano. The fight is taking place on the card of UFC 200, one of the biggest UFC shows ever. She will be fighting on the prelims so a lot of people that won’t pay to see the main events can watch her. If she is impressive, many will be calling for her to get a shot at Tate or Amanda Nunes, who fight one another for the championship on the same card. Pena has the personality and looks of a champion. Now she just needs the belt. Winning on Saturday is a big step in accomplishing that goal.
In boxing, rarely does an event live up to the hype. Promoters have done a great job at making the public want to see a fight and then being let down because the fight was a disappointment. Thankfully, last Saturday’s match-up between Keith “One Time” Thurman and “Showtime” Shawn Porter did not fall in that category.
These two young welterweights gave us an unforgettable fight. The fight didn’t look like it would last too long because Thurman was catching Porter with some crisp left hooks early. Even though his knees buckled a couple of times, Porter showed that he had a champion’s chin and never went down. He kept coming at Thurman for twelve rounds. Porter occasionally got him on the ropes and bullied him. He even hurt Thurman with a good body shot that had “One Time” retreating. The fight was so close that after it was announced that Thurman had won a unanimous decision the crowd booed believing that Porter’s aggression was enough to win the fight.
In this bout that were no losers. Both men accounted themselves well. They left such a good taste in the fan’s mouth that days after it was over, people are still talking about it. Presently in the boxing world, we have to shell out $50 or more in order to catch a fight that features two big names and then hope that it is a good enough to justify the money that was spent on it. Saturday’s fight was free, it wasn’t even on a premium channel. It was on CBS and they gave us more than we would have seen in a pay per view main event, especially for a fight that had been building up since late last year. Boxing used to be one of the most beloved sports. It was the norm to put the best fighters in a duel with one another but because of greed it has become a rare occurrence to see great match-ups. Often when they finally fight each other both fighters are usually well past their primes. Boxing needed a lift. Thurman and Porter provided that. Let’s hope that the momentum of this fight can carry on from here and get boxing back where it needs to be.
By Shawn Buck (@buck4peace)